Daily life of the ancient Romans

  In the two or three centuries after the Roman Republic began in 509 BC, Roman citizens had relatively simple necessities, and most of them lived a simple and small farm life. They are accustomed to ploughing the fields and mu, and are satisfied with light meals, simple clothes and simple housing, even the highest-ranking officials such as the consuls are no exception. However, with the great conquest of Rome, especially after the conquest of the wealthy Greece and the eastern countries in the 2nd century BC, huge wealth and slaves for servitude flowed into Rome continuously, which made a great change in the necessities of the Romans. The change. They gradually gave up the earlier moral values ​​that strictly prohibited simplicity and hard work, and became increasingly extravagant, indulging in gourmet food and arena all day long, pursuing absurd consumption and crazy extravagance.
  1. It is difficult for national laws to curb the Romans’ pursuit of oriental
  silk The traditional clothing of the ancient Romans is relatively simple. Men’s clothing has only one robe and one garment, namely Roman robes and short-sleeved underwear. The Roman robe, also known as the robe, is sewn with a large piece of semi-circular material, with an opening in the center of the circle and on the shoulders, and the two sides naturally sag to form a large robe. The underwear is also a single piece of fabric with a round neck, very similar to today’s T-shirts. The only difference is that the Roman underwear was knee-length and tied with a belt. Women’s clothing is basically the same as men’s clothing. The difference is that women’s clothing often adds an embroidered robe to the underwear, and sometimes wears a shawl, a square scarf or a cape. In 215 BC, Rome was at war with Hannibal. In order to limit citizens’ excessive pursuit of high consumption of clothing, the Roman government specially formulated the Opian Law to make Roman citizens more equal in clothing.
  After the end of the Second Punic War, the uniformity of the clothing of Roman citizens gradually aroused the dissatisfaction of the rich, especially women. In 195 BC, women took to the streets en masse, surrounded the Tribunal Chamber, and demanded that the government repeal the Opia law. They succeeded, the Opian law was repealed, and Roman dress became trendier thereafter.
  After Rome conquered Greece and the eastern countries in the 2nd century BC, the finely crafted Babylonian robes were introduced to Rome and were very popular with the Romans. Even the home of Cato, the famous censor known for his frugality, kept a Babylonian robe for two generations. Among the robes worn by the Romans, the purple robe is the most formal and solemn. When victorious generals hold a triumphal ceremony, they usually wear purple toga adorned with gold stars and crowns of gold and precious stones to show their grandeur. On formal occasions, band members generally wear purple robes that reach to the feet, and attendants wear purple tights.
  In the imperial period, luxury became more and more popular, and the clothes of the court and nobles became more and more gorgeous, and the long-sleeved robes of the oriental style gradually became popular. Gold and silver ornaments and splendid embroidery made the attire of the dignitaries, especially the women, achieve unprecedented luxury. When the women watched the show, they attracted the attention of the men with their fancy clothes. When the royal female little Agrippina sat next to the head of state Claudius and watched the rodeo, she wore a gorgeous cloak woven with golden velvet, which was dazzling and eye-catching. The high bun with curly hair was popular in the Flavian Dynasty, and women at that time deliberately portrayed this hairstyle, covering the head with layers of hair more than a foot high like a crown of feathers and clouds. When it came to the Antonine Dynasty, it advocated light clothes and easy hairstyles.
  At that time, there was no cotton in Rome, and wool and linen were generally used for clothing materials. In the middle of the 1st century BC, when Caesar held a triumphal ceremony, he showed the Roman people the Chinese silk seized in the war for the first time. Since then, Chinese silk was introduced to Rome, and it was immediately favored by the Romans. Even the flags used by the famous Crassus Legion were made of silk fabrics. So much so that in AD 14, before Augustus died, the Senate ordered that male citizens were prohibited from wearing silk clothing, and certain restrictions were imposed on the use of silk by women. However, this ban did not have much effect. The interest of the Roman upper class in Chinese silk remained unabated, and the silk trade between Rome and China was still booming. After the 2nd century AD, the demand for Chinese silk in Rome increased, and Chinese silk was not only favored by the upper classes, but also favored by the lower classes. In order to buy Chinese silk and import luxury goods such as spices, spices, linen and jewelry from India and Arabia, Rome paid a lot of gold and silver, which caused a serious foreign trade deficit and a large outflow of gold and silver. Pliny’s records show that the annual flow of gold and silver from Rome to India, China and the Arabian Peninsula was more than 100 million Cestis. He also believes that “popular luxury and women have made us pay such a high price.” The massive outflow of gold and silver led to a serious foreign trade deficit in Rome and a serious currency chaos, which brought considerable damage to the normal economic life of Rome. big damage.
  Eating as an Art: The Beginning of a Luxurious Life
  In the early days of the Roman Empire, three meals a day were relatively simple for the Romans. Breakfast was only bread and cheese, and lunch was served with a few cold dishes (including meat and bread) and a small amount of wine. Bread has been around since ancient Egyptian times and has been a staple of ancient Greece and Rome ever since. Dinner is rich, usually three courses. The first dishes are mostly eggs, beans, salted fish or vegetables, the main dishes are grilled meat or chicken, and the last dishes are fish and shrimp. In addition to bread, the staple food is generally only wheat porridge. Rice did not exist in Roman times. From the 4th century BC, wealthy Romans, in their association with the Greeks, developed the habit of lying down at the table while eating, while the Romans formerly ate at the table. In the early 3rd century BC, silver utensils began to appear on the tables of Roman dignitaries.
  The Romans cooked food in many ways, and we found a lot of cooking utensils in ancient Roman dwellings. Some houses don’t appear to have cooking facilities, perhaps because they use a removable brazier or stove. Wealthy families generally have special kitchens with built-in veneer long stone or brick multi-stove stoves, with a semi-circular mouth, where food can be cooked directly on it or on a tripod. Originally the food was simply boiled, grilled or fried. By the time of the Empire, cooking had become sophisticated as an art. Cooking food with milk and honey has gradually become commonplace, and imaginative recipes have begun to spread.
  After the 2nd century BC, the diet of the Romans changed a lot due to the influence of the Greeks. The variety of dishes has increased, and the dishes are more exquisite and delicious than before. Professional cooks pushed the hostess out of the kitchen, and in the past, the hostess prepared food for the family with the help of female slaves. The Romans loved to eat fish, and in the 1st century BC, Rome already had a large fish farm. The Romans liked to use pepper, spices, honey to taste, and they especially liked fish sauce, which was an exotic fish sauce. At the same time, cooking has also undergone great changes, differentiated into the baking of bread and the making of desserts. Baked bread, instead of the original porridge. The presence of 171 or so bakeries in Rome illustrates this point. The wine of Greece and the fish of the kingdom of Asia Minor were widely found on the table of the Romans. The Romans also often had wine on their tables, and they learned to drink Greek-style swigs. The banquet depends on how many dishes there are and how many guests there are. At that time, feasts with plenty of wine, accompanied by the performance of Greek harpists and the dances of Greek dancers, were a common occurrence in Rome. Livy, a famous Roman historian in the 1st century BC, once pointed out: “The ancient Romans often regarded cooks as the least valuable slaves and treated them as the lowest slaves, but now their worth has been greatly improved. , what used to be compulsive has now become an art. But seeing these things at this moment is only the beginning of the luxury life of the future.”
  Supper was the most important meal of the day for Romans, and later developed into a social feast with exquisite dishes. The Romans didn’t take breakfast seriously, and they were done with bread, cheese, or leftovers from the previous day. They don’t pay much attention to lunch either, go to the tavern to buy something to eat and eat it on the street. Just buy sausages, fish, lentils, fruit, bagels, cakes and wine at public eating places. Dinner was at home and was a delightful social feast. The dinner starts at 4pm and may last until the second half of the night. The dishes of a dinner party are set: first a light meal, usually prepared with eggs, followed by a main meal consisting of several dishes, the main course being meat or fish, and finally a spicy food or dried fruit, the purpose of which is Thirsty and indulgent drinking. All dishes are served hot or cold, making it easy for guests to grab. Informal general dinners are relatively simple, consisting only of a starter and a main course, usually made of meat.
  Banquets were of great significance in Roman social life, as a means of socializing and a means for the owner of the house to show his social and economic status. The more busy slaves there are around the table, the more luxurious their clothes are, and the more they show the wealth of the owner of the house. Slaves were responsible for supplying the food, and successful cuisine was often accompanied by a variety of pleasurable performances such as recitations, singing, instrumental performances, dancing or acrobatics. Dedicated to showing off their wealthy homeowners, additional gifts are given as special souvenirs. These gifts are usually bronze, ivory or silver figurines, sometimes caricatures.
  We can get a general understanding of the diet of the wealthy Romans in the last years of the republic by taking Lugulus, a famous figure in Rome in the middle of the first century BC as an example. Rugulus, who served as the consul of Rome in 73 B.C.E., ate a sumptuous meal, not only with purple blankets, jeweled plates, dances and various theatrical performances, but also delicious food Refined dishes that make others envious. He has many restaurants, each of which has its fixed consumption standards, its corresponding tableware, equipment and slaves. In this way, as soon as the slave knows which restaurant he is dining in, he knows how much to spend and how to arrange the decorations and scenes of the banquet. On one occasion he entertained Pompey and Cicero at his Apollo restaurant, preparing a table worth more than 30,000 Cesstus in very little time. At that time, a Roman soldier’s salary for a year was only 451 Cestis.

  In order to curb this growing trend of luxury, from 161 BC to the reign of Augustus, the Roman government passed a series of laws restricting the consumption of meals. But these bills did not help much, and by the time of the Empire, Rome was no less lavish in food than Greece and the East. The Roman writer Aurus Gallius in the 2nd century AD gave us a menu of what was on the Roman table at the time, including peacocks from Samos in the Aegean Sea, grouse from Philigia in Asia Minor, and cranes from Persia. , lamb from Ambrazia in northern Greece, tuna from the Black Sea, hagfish from Puerto Burtissus, Spain, walnuts from Caios Island, date palms from Egypt, and oak chess hazelnuts from Spain, etc. The luxury of the Romans feasting is evident.
  Apartment buildings and villas: Romans’ way of rest
  The Roman residences can be divided into farm houses and city houses. The traditional farm house in Rome is generally a small square courtyard surrounded by four walls. The house is built on four sides, and the roof tile slope slopes from the head of the wall to the center. The wall facing the street opens the door for entry. The rest of the walls are doorless and windowless. The center of the farmhouse is a large common room, also known as the atrium. The atrium is the center of family life. At the center of the atrium is the stove, which is used for heating and cooking, and the smoke from the combustion is exhausted through a sky hole in the patio. On the ground below this sky hole, there is a recess for storing rainwater. The atrium is lit through this sky hole. The atrium, also known as the main room, doubles as a reception room and also houses statues of ancestors. People cook and eat here and do their homework. The rest of the rooms are bedrooms. There are also gardens, vegetable gardens and their ancillary buildings in the house. In the early days, such dwellings were single storey.
  Urban housing is developed from farmhouses. It consists of three main parts, namely the atrium, the main room and the colonnade. The atrium is now no longer equipped with a stove, and has become a hall for the reception of guests in the front. People can enter the atrium from the street through the vestibule and the front room. Behind the atrium is the main room, which is the master’s room, with small corridors on both sides, through which one can enter the colonnade from the atrium. The colonnade is an open-air corridor inside the house surrounded by columns. In the middle of it, there is often a small garden with a pool, and on both sides are living and working rooms, including bedrooms, dining rooms, kitchens, bathrooms, lower rooms and warehouses. The houses of the wealthy in the city are usually two or three storeys. As contact with the Greeks increased, their dwellings began to be beautifully and luxuriously decorated. Decorative items such as Greek art, books, silverware, and furniture with bronzes became a must for wealthy urban families after the 2nd century BC.
  In the last years of the republic, with the rapid growth of the urban population, the housing situation of the urban poor, freedmen and slaves became worse and worse, and they lived in specific areas of the Roman city – the ghettos. Most of the houses in the slums are timber-framed buildings built hastily by contractors cutting corners, without necessary living equipment and lack of maintenance. They are rudimentary, crude, and highly fire-prone. In the city of Rome, houses are lined up in rows and large, and disasters such as fires and house collapses have become commonplace and habitual. Some people, such as the chaebol Crassus, made their fortunes buying fire houses cheaply. He thus became the richest man in Rome, owning most of the property in the city of Rome.
  In the city, the apartment buildings built after the head of state Nero burned down the city of Rome in the middle of the 1st century AD had great significance in the history of ancient urban development. These apartment buildings are not only eye-catching because of their large scale and quantity, but also create a new example of the reconstruction of the ancient city by using all cement and stone materials and in accordance with uniform specifications. Now these ancient apartment relics are very few, only some well-preserved apartment buildings of the 1st-2nd century AD on the remains of the port of Ostia, the mouth of the city of Rome. In terms of shape, they are very similar to the four or five-story apartment buildings in today’s cities. The ground floor of the adjacent street is turned into a shop, and the upper floor is divided into sets of “units”, with balconies and stairs leading to the street. Upper and rear courtyard. After the city of Rome built this uniform apartment building, all parts of the empire followed suit, making it the basic model of residential housing in the imperial period. The use of cement is also a great creation of the Romans. In the 2nd century BC, the Romans learned to use natural cement made of volcanic ash and mud in the process of building houses. After drying, it is no different from modern cement, making houses and buildings stronger and more malleable, providing the material and technical foundation for Roman architecture to reach the highest peak in the ancient world in the early days of the Empire.
  Of particular note are the villas in Rome. By the 2nd century BC, in addition to competing to build ornate residences in the city of Rome, the wealthy nobles also built villas in Latinum, central Italy and the coastal areas. At the time, even wealthy freed slaves owned luxury villas. In 78 BC, the consul Lepida built a large villa of unprecedented scale in the city of Rome. However, in less than 35 years, there were more than 100 villas in Rome that surpassed Lepida in scale, and its construction speed. Astonishingly fast. Someone like Cicero, who is not very rich, actually owns 9 country houses worth more than 3 million Cesstus. Pliny the Younger (the elder Pliny’s nephew), a middle-class family, also owns more than 10 villas. Most of these villas are fully equipped, with special facilities such as bathrooms, swimming pools, ball rooms, libraries, lounges, hunting, etc., and their luxury is no less than the palaces of kings in the Greek era. The wealthy also gave their villas some Greek names, such as vestibules, gymnasiums, undressing rooms, colonnades, poultry farms and pigeon houses. In the 1st century AD, most villas in Rome had been installed with heating systems for heating. Living in the little Pliny at the end of the 1st century AD, in the Villa Laurentine built on the outskirts of Rome, there are entrance halls, D-shaped corridors, courtyards, inner halls, dining rooms, living rooms, inner halls, gymnasiums, hall rooms, floors, heating, heating Living room, preparation room, cold bathroom, pool, anointing room, fire room, warm water room, warm water room, tennis room, storage room, meat kitchen, garden, long hall corridor, platform and other facilities. In the beach house of Rugulus, there are huge tunnels dug through the mountains, and the villa is surrounded by seawater and fish-breeding creeks. His country house has a lookout, a huge open-air banquet hall and numerous cloisters. In order to show off their status, rich people compete to use expensive marble when building villas. Seneca, the teacher of Führer Nero, once said: “Among us, if anyone’s Alexandrian marble is not worthy of other stones, he will be regarded as shabby… This house will be looked down upon by others.”
  For some literate Romans, going to the country or beach house was not just for leisure, but for reading and writing. There are elegant courtyards, a rich collection of books, exquisite Greek statues and numerous slaves, making it an ideal place for them. Whenever Cicero had free time, he stayed for a few days at the country house in order to write. It’s quiet, there are few distractions, and it’s good for writing. When Pliny the Younger arrived in summer, he went to the Tuscan villa to cool off, read and write. Villa Tuscany is located in the foothills of the Apennine Mountains, close to the coast, with beautiful views and fresh air. All over the western coast of the Apennine Peninsula, especially on the Bay of Naples, there are various seaside villas. Pliny the Younger described: “The whole coast is beautifully decorated with many villas of various sizes, large and small.” “I enjoy not only physical health, but also spiritual happiness here, because I read and write. The mind is fully exercised, and the body is also exercised by frequent hunting.” The
  slow carriage and the convenient sea: the way
  of terms of travel, at the end of the republic, the development of land roads and the smooth flow of sea transportation became A major feature of Roman civilization, it formed the magnificent scene of “all roads lead to Rome”. In the early days of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the transportation of Rome was very backward, but after the great conquest of Rome from the 3rd century BC to the 2nd century BC, out of the need to strengthen the rule, the Roman government began to pay attention to road construction. By the 1st century BC, Roman roads had grown considerably. During the imperial period, due to the attention of the rulers, the transportation industry in Rome was perfected day by day.
  On the land side, by the 1st century BC, Roman roads covered almost all of Italy and began to extend into the provinces. There are 7 main roads built in Italy. In the provinces, the roads built in Rome are not as large as those in Italy, but they are not small. From the city of Rome, there are direct overland routes to the Aegean coast, Asia Minor, Syria and the Pyrenees.
  In ancient Rome, cows, mules, donkeys and horses became the main traction animals, and two or four-wheeled bullock carts were the main means of transportation. Sedan chairs and shoulders are also the main means of transportation for the aristocrats and the wealthy when they go out for a short distance. At the end of the 1st century BC, the city of Rome experienced a particularly remarkable development. Like all towns in the Empire, the streets play the melody of daily life. Day and night, people and vehicles of all kinds are bound to crowd the streets. People not only traveled around in various vehicles pulled by mules and donkeys, but also on horseback and on foot. People may also sit on a human-carried sedan chair, a canopy-covered couch covered by a curtain, or ride on a more simple shoulder yoke. The pottery model on display at an exhibition of ancient Roman civilization in China is the only record we know of such a vehicle. Travellers climbed in through a small door and traveled in shoulder carts carried by more than one slave. The ancient Roman civilization exhibition shows that a special carriage with a huge wine bag was used to transport wine. In the colorful frescoes unearthed in Pompeii, we see two slaves busy filling jars with wine through the pipes behind the wine sacs.
  As far as the Mediterranean world is concerned, in addition to land transportation, sea transportation is also relatively developed. After centuries of hard work, Rome not only eliminated Carthage, a maritime power, and annexed all the coastal countries in the Eastern Mediterranean, but also eliminated the rampant pirates in the Mediterranean, making the traffic in the Mediterranean unimpeded. It only takes 12 days to get from Neopolis to Alexandria and 7 days to Corinth. The voyage from Napa in South Gaul to Africa, if the wind is favorable, only takes 5 days. It only takes 6 days from Thetis to Alexandria. In terms of transportation speed, sea routes are much faster than land routes. Inland shipping in Rome was also active. Large and small ships travel frequently in the northern Italian lake region and the Po River basin, new distribution centers have appeared on the Rhine and Seine, and Cologne, Lutetia (later Paris) and Lugardun (later Lyon) are all important river ports. . As for the means of sea transportation and water transportation, Rome was able to manufacture voyage cargo ships with cabins, with lifting poles and hinges; in addition to cargo warehouses and housing, the cabins were also equipped with sufficient drinking water and food, which could be used in the four seasons of the ocean. Sailing, represents the highest peak of ancient shipbuilding technology. The construction of the harbour piers is stronger due to the extensive use of cement, and lighthouses are commonly used. Archaeological discoveries show that the port facilities were largely unified as far as Britain in the west and Lebanon in the east, reflecting the development of Roman shipping. All of this provided great convenience for the travel of the Romans.

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